DNOWS Header

Image Map

Monday, August 24, 2015

Swimming When The Ocean And Sky Were One

Photos courtesy of Keano Pavlosky, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Hawaii.

Article courtesy of Steve Haumschild of the Kaiwi Channel Association, Hawaii
.

Few humans in history have experienced the Molokai (Kaiwi) Channel like Steve Haumschild and Jeff Kozlovich. Slowly and repeatedly, they have crossed the 26-mile (42 km) channel between Oahu and Molokai escorting a number of swimmers, many whom have made it across successfully and some who have not.

Every time out on the channel, there has been an adventure: sometimes scary, many times unexpected, always memorable.

Yesterday was no difference with the brother duo relay with 32-year-old John Royer and his younger brother Mark Royer.

"As always, it was an eventful evening," recalled Haumschild. "Kaiwi is more than a channel. It is alive.

It's the neighbors angry dog tied to a tree that you think you want to pet, but you know it will bite, and when you pet it, it bites you. It's the kitty trapped in a corner. The one thing you know about Kaiwi, is that if you want to cross her, you better get into Beast Mode and be prepared to fight like you have never fought before. It's not called the Channel of Bones for no good reason. Even the best swimmers in the world, can and will continue to get their face slapped and the door slammed on them on the way out.

Sometimes it's not about how hard you try, she is against you. You need serious teamwork and full trust in the swimmers, kayakers and the boat captain.
"

The pre-swim meeting between Haumschild, Kozlovich and the Royer brothers stressed the potential impact of a hurricane coming to Hawaii.

"The Royer's are scientists by trade. They are smart, analytical and opportunists. They swim because they truly love the sport and love adventure. Between Jeff, Mike Twigg-Smith, the boat captain, and myself, we saw a window of weather that looked to provide a reasonable opportunity for the Mark and John. We all as a team agreed on the window and put logistics on fire to pull off a Sunday start. It was off to the races at this point.

The forecast matched the observation on Molokai, and we were greeted with soft and calm seas with warm air. The Royer's suited up and we got underway just before 7 pm Sunday night. It started off insanely beautiful. Inky black sky and inky black water made the perfect backdrop for an entire night show of bioluminescence. From the kayak looking at the swimmer, the trailing current looked like a comet. Every paddle stroke was also a light show.

We were off to a beautiful night with Mike at the helm, Jeff and I paddling and Mark's girlfriend Keanu lending the boys much needed support back on the boat between swims. We moved into what I call "Channel Trance" or the silent harmony where everything just clicks and nobody needs to talk. Everyone trusts everyone and everyone performs while being mesmerized with the beauty of the tropical night ocean
."

But the channel was about to upset the harmonious symphony between swimmers and their crew.

"Around 1:30 am when Mark was in the water and I was in the kayak, we got sideswiped by a large system coming over the ocean. It started peacefully with some rain that further stirred up the bioluminescence, but within moments the precipitation turned into a torrential downpour. that caused flash flooding on Oahu.

Then the variable winds hit. My rough guess is that the winds were in the 25 mph range, but it was swinging all over the compass. This stirred up the waves, reduced visibility, and put us in an interesting position where we really could not see to navigate. We could not determine the ocean from the sky.

Mike reacted quickly and got the boat closer to us so we could at least try to see each other over the building waves. Mark looked at me, I back at him, and simply said, "Good to go, let's swim through it.'

With no hesitation, Mark put his head down and turned on Beast Mode. Jeff and I have worked with Mike so many times that we know he has our backs and this was our beacon of light if we needed it.

The rains continued and the storm took us all over the place. John and Mark swapped and John got into Beast Mode. Jeff and I swapped and he got into Beast Mode. We all got into Beast Mode. The storm lasted until day break and fully dried out around 7 am. We had good conditions to Sandy's Beach with some elevated shore break to finish. It was a rough and stormy night that took us all by surprise
."

Mark and John finally finished after 16 hours 28 minutes to the cheers of family and friends as they fought through the shorebreak.

Photos of their duo relay crossing are posted here.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

2 comments:

  1. Epic wins all around!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I LOVE these stories. Interesting thing is, while you guys were out there doing Beast Mode, in Molokai, I was supposed to be supporting a friend swimmer to do his first channel swim, Catalina, but I got the flue. It really blows me away, that all over the globe now, there may be 2-3-4, even a half dozen swimmers doing their channel crossings in the middle of the night!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA


WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB

FREE DOWNLOAD

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Open Water Swimming Magazine


Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
LEARN MORE

The Other Shore


The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
LEARN MORE...

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/preview-open-water-swimming-almanac


The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.

SponsorMySwim.com

Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program